An analysis of legislation and policies that guide maternity leave decision making in Australian midwifery students

Michelle Gray, Liz McNeill, Terri Downer, Dianne Bloxsome, Elaine Jefford

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Objective
There are no guidelines to assist midwifery academics or students in determining the optimal time to return to their educational programs following pregnancy. Rather, students need to navigate balancing new motherhood with the pressures of returning to their clinical midwifery placement and completing their statutory requirements to meet the Australian Midwife Accreditation Standards before the end of their program. The aim of this study was to seek best practice information that provides guidance to academics supporting midwifery students returning to study after maternity leave.

Methods
An analysis of contemporary Australian legislation, workforce guidelines, professional association statements, and university policies was undertaken to determine what guidance is available to assist midwifery academics in providing advice to midwifery students about the optimal time to return to their studies following birth. This document analysis was performed during 2021–2022 and followed Altheide and Schneider’s 12 step process divided into five stages to clarify best practice advice for midwifery academics to provide guidance to students returning to study after maternity leave.

Results
Policy documents that refer to pregnancy confirm women have legal rights, and there is clear guidance on maternity leave; however, advice for midwifery students on the optimum time to return to study and clinical placements after birth is missing from the result of this document analysis search.

Conclusion
Transition to motherhood during the postnatal period is an important time. Clear national guidelines are needed to provide support and recommendations regarding a safe and optimal time to return to study and placement.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)652-666
Number of pages15
JournalAustralian Health Review
Volume47
Issue number6
Early online date20 Nov 2023
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 20 Nov 2023

Keywords

  • legislation
  • maternity leave
  • midwifery
  • parenting
  • policy analysis
  • pregnant
  • pre‐registration education
  • student

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